SYCAMORE – Whitney Munro thought she would likely stay in Sycamore her whole life until she discovered her love of traveling.
Munro, a 2013 graduate of Sycamore High School, learned she enjoyed exploring new cultures and sharing the love of God with others, so she applied for a program that allowed her to do just that.
Munro spent 2019 as a missionary for The World Race, traveling to 11 countries in 11 months: Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, India, Nepal, Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Romania and Portugal.
Munro’s father, Pastor Joe Munro of Sycamore United Methodist Church and Grace United Methodist Church in Maple Park, updated the congregations often about Whitney’s travels.
At 9 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 12, Whitney Munro will talk about her year with The World Race at Grace United Methodist Church.
Munro spoke to MidWeek reporter Katrina Milton about her missionary work and travels.
Milton: How did you become interested in missionary work?
Munro: My dad started off as youth pastor, and he has always had a passion for serving people and travel. Missionary work is a great way to do that. … I went on mission trips in high school and in college, but never for this length of a period. In high school, I traveled around the U.S., in college, I went to Native American reservations.
Milton: What are some differences in culture you experienced on your trip?
Munro: I had a variety of cultural experiences in every country. The temperature was really hot when we were in India, one day it got up to 120 degrees [Fahrenheit]. It was more than 100 degrees [Fahrenheit] every day we were there. Most buildings don’t have air conditioning, we were wearing traditional clothing that covered us from our neck to our ankles and we were sleeping on the floor of a church. We saw Mount Everest in Nepal and kayaked the Nile River in Rwanda on a free day.
Milton: How would you describe the difficulty of traveling to new countries?
Munro: It was really hard. I only know English, and it was difficult to travel to new cultures and show God’s love without words because of the language barrier. I loved making kids laugh, making silly faces and bringing joy to people. It showed me how people really want to be part of a community, to be heard and listened to, whether they’re in India or in Sycamore.
Milton: What did you do as a missionary?
Munro: I spent a lot of my time teaching and working with children. In several countries, I practiced preaching. We painted and helped build a church in Rwanda, we worked with gypsies in Romania, we built a road, spent time with pilgrims on the Portuguese Camino. It was definitely something out of my normal, every day. I went from student teaching every day as I was earning my degree to teaching children without blackboards, writing in sand to teach them letters.
Milton: What is one experience you will never forget?
Munro: One experience I will never forget is sitting and praying with a family in India. A mom and dad had a very sick baby that was about to die. I told them about the love of Christ. I learned about the importance of crying and caring for each other. I learned to appreciate what we have. It was a life-altering experience, wan experience I never would have had if I stayed here in Sycamore.
Milton: Even though your travels were at times dangerous, was it worth it?
Munro: It was 100% worth it. I definitely recommend it. It was a life-changing experience, breath-taking, something you only do once in a lifetime. It was amazing. And now that I’m back home, I’m excited to share my experiences with others. I will speak at churches, letting them know about my trip. I promised to keep local churches updated. I created a video each month and wrote a blog.
Milton: What are your goals for the future?
Munro: I can’t wait to continue traveling and learning about new cultures. I think it’s fun to step out of your comfort zone. When you embrace that feeling, you can learn so much. Even a week-long trip can help you learn and grow as a person. … My goal is to one day work at a church that does mission work. I’d love to plan, organize and work hands-on with mission trips with youth groups and children. I’d love to have a church of my own. Within the next two years, I will be back in school, in the seminary, to become a pastor.
For more information about Munro’s travels and missionary work, visit her blog, www.whitneymunro.theworldrace.org.